Kyle Thomas is King Tuff. King Tuff is Kyle Thomas. Cool, we’ve got that out of the way? Just wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page. No judgement, seriously. Pseudonyms are fucked up things. Remember that time JK Rowling sold fuck all books because she was writing under a pseudonym? Yeah, man, faking a name is hard business, and it can really bite you in the ass. Which is why it’s so cool to see King Tuff finally embracing his outrageous side, and not letting previous projects like Witch and associations with Ty Segall get in the way of some solid rocking out.
King Tuff records have alway suffered from being a little too awesome. They almost bland themselves out. It’s like when you eat a whole bucket of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked – once you get about 3/4 of the way down, the only reason you’re continuing is because you feel like you have to finish what you’ve started. You know it’s really, really good, a mini-orgasm giving birth to multiple other orgasms at the same time, but that plateau wears itself thin, and you don’t become bored necessarily, just accustomed. With “Black Moon Spell”, King Tuff has fully incorporated the T. Rex sound into his wild rock ‘n’ roll, and taken chances with his guitar that he never would have shied away from on earlier releases. With previous albums, there was always something just holding back the album from achieving what King Tuff wanted to say.”Was Dead” was almost hippie-infused, like a garage band choking on incense, and his self-titled was a headbanger’s journey cushioned by a safety helmet and an overprotective Mum barking orders from the sidelines.
But ‘Black Moon Spell’ pulls no such punches. It’s cool as fuck, so cool that it kicked calm and collected out on the street, and struts around by itself. The guitar lines are sickeningly sweet and crunchy, like an explosion that’s gone off at the Wonka factory. There’s the ultimate Hunx & His Punx knockoff track “Beautiful Thing”, which might be this year’s best track to stand outside an unrequited love’s house and blast on a loudspeaker (ironically, this insanely catchy firecracker is followed by a bouncy track glorifying the plainer of us, called “I Love You Ugly”). “Black Holes in Stereo” is like that Dasher “Go Rambo” track, only instead of belonging in a hardcore punk dive, it’s been transported to a transvestite karoake night, where you either play David Bowie or you can Get The Fuck Out (GTFO for the acronym lovers). And “Eddie’s Song” takes all the hand-clapping awesomeness of Aerosmith and Van Halen, and crushes it into a toe-tapping sexperience (trust me, the orgasms will come thick and fast on this one, the melody practically moans itself).
But by far, “Headbanger” is the standout here. It might be the finest song King Tuff has composed to date, chock full of guitar breaks, bludgeoning riffs, and mind-melting cymbal crashes. And best of all, KT manages to describe the perfect partner – someone with Judas Priest and Iron Maiden records and who’s not afraid to tear open some skin in pursuit of the ultimate headbang. Every King Tuff record has that one song that continues in the consciousness of the fans, even after the album has receded to background noise. ‘Was Dead’ had “Lazerbeam”, ‘King Tuff’ had “Keep On Movin'” and ‘Black Moon Spell’ has “Headbanger”.
But back to the original point. Cohesiveness was never really the goal of King Tuff, nor was it completely expected. Churn out a record loaded with hits, and we’ll ignore the couple of bung notes in favour of gettin’ turnt. ‘Black Moon Spell’ suffers from this curse in only the mildest of forms (“Sick Mind”, “Staircase of Diamonds”) and better yet, King Tuff’s musical ability has skyrocketed to make every track as gooey and chunky as possible. He’s cut off his fears, and completely let loose, indulging incredibly, and reaping the great rewards that stem from true glam rock. Marc Bolan would be crying tears of joy in celebration of this record, and you should to. The songs on here are excellence, and whereas ‘Black Moon Spell’s predecessors would’ve suited a garage performance or a sticky carpet, this album points towards stadium aspirations that are both achievable and welcome.